How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Physician Sexual Misconduct
The vast majority of the more than 900,000 licensed medical doctors in the United States are ethical, moral and conscientious people who care deeply about their patients’ health and welfare. Unfortunately, there are practicing physicians who take advantage of their patients’ illnesses, vulnerabilities and trust to prey on them sexually. While physicians who sexually violate their patients are a minority, every single incident of sexual misconduct can cause devastating and long-lasting trauma to its individual victims.
Many doctors who assault patients are repeat abusers because they have gotten away with it in the past. Their illicit activities may have gone unreported by patients, they may have been reprimanded but those proceedings were confidential, or in some cases, the abuse reports were ignored by their employer. So while not all information on every doctor is available publicly, there are some online tools that can help consumers find information about doctors and possible incidents of sexual misconduct.
- The California Department of Consumer Affairs website (www.breeze.ca.gov) allows consumers to verify licenses of physicians and other professionals. It will tell you if the license is current or suspended and whether there are any proceedings against the individual.
- The Federation of State Medical Boards (docinfo.org) provides an easy-to-navigate link to state medical boards. Type in a physician’s name and state to find licensing data and information on actions taken against the doctor.
- Healthgrades.com provides information and consumer reviews on doctors and sexual misconduct actions. General internet searches on doctors, medical groups and hospitals can also help uncover reports about sexual misconduct actions. If a case has high visibility there may be news reports online, social and media posts. If a doctor or medical institution has many complaints against it, blogs and even websites may have been created to warn the public. One example of such a website is www.uhsbehindcloseddoors.org, which highlights issues at Universal Health Services, the country’s largest provider of inpatient behavioral health care.
Even with the tools available, it is important to remember that not all information on every doctor is available online. In fact, much of the information relating to sexual misconduct and doctors is not publicly available. When visiting a physician, it is important to also rely on your own instincts and be aware of inappropriate behaviors such as sexual innuendo, sexual questions not related to your reason for visiting, inappropriate touching and other abusive behaviors.
If you believe you may have been the victim of sexual misconduct, the medical malpractice attorneys at Hodes Milman & Liebeck can provide you with a confidential and complimentary case evaluation. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222.